Climate Change

Why green business can’t solve climate change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 3:52pm in

The trillions invested in fossil fuels and the cost of shifting to alternatives economy-wide means green business cannot solve the climate crisis, writes Lachlan Marshall

Despite the need for urgent and
systemic change to avert climate catastrophe, the global political economy is
shifting at a snail’s pace.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) predicts
temperature rises of between 2.9 and 3.4 degrees by 2100 compared to
pre-industrial levels, if climate action doesn’t escalate.

The world is already experiencing the effects of
anthropogenic climate change: the fires in the Amazon, Queensland and NSW,
alongside Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas are only the latest examples.

The September Global Climate Strikes mobilised
millions of students and workers across the world to demand climate action.

Some business leaders, like Atlassian boss Mike
Cannon-Brookes, encouraged their staff to attend the strikes, even giving them
paid leave to attend.

In the face of the failure of Prime Minister Scott
Morrison and governments to act, many have looked in desperation to business
leaders for a solution. Cannon-Brookes has echoed this sentiment, saying
business must, “step up and try to solve this problem.”

In August the Business Roundtable released a
“statement on the purpose of a corporation” signed by 181 American CEOs.

The statement replaced the Business Roundtable’s
longstanding principle of “shareholder primacy” with “a fundamental commitment
to all our stakeholders,” including the environment.

Business leader and proponent of stakeholder
capitalism Marty Lipton told the Financial Times, “I put forward my
ideas of stakeholders to save capitalism—not destroy it. But if we don’t act
now, I don’t think that capitalism will be around in the next 50 years.”

Similar rhetoric is employed by a movement of
“socially responsible” businesses called B Corps. Its website describes B
Companies as “a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit.” B Corps
like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s supported the climate strike.

But the idea that companies could give equal
consideration to profit and “purpose” ignores the fundamental dynamics of
capitalism.

Transforming companies to strip out fossil fuels would
come at a significant cost. Businesses that subordinate profits to reducing
their emissions would be undercut by competitors able to produce and sell their
goods more cheaply, and would soon go out of business.

As even the pro-business The Economist admits, “What the world has not yet seen is a situation where ESG (environmental, social and governance)
issues come into material, systemic conflict with profits. Purpose is flavour of the month, says Stephen Bainbridge, professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, ‘but are companies really going to give shareholders a 10 per cent haircut for the sake of stakeholders?’”

Some companies argue that there is a growing market
for green products, and that zero carbon energy sources like solar and wind
power can be profitable.

Co-founder of B Lab, Jay Coen Gilbert argues that B
Corps, “will outcompete in a marketplace that increasingly values an authentic
commitment to purpose.”

But these companies are selling to a small niche
market of consumers who are willing to pay higher prices for “ethical”
products.

Bosses like Cannon-Brookes may be sincere in their
concern about climate change. But they are part of a small minority of
companies who have a business advantage in speaking out on climate.

As John McDuling wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald,
“The company is battling other tech firms to hire software developers, who tend
to be well grounded in scientific concepts, and politically progressive
people. Software developers, IT help desk staff and knowledge workers more
broadly are also Atlassian’s target customers.”

This point was illustrated by the impressive turnout
of IT workers at the Global Climate Strike, especially in the US, where
thousands of workers from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter joined the
strikes.

Worse, the claims of many of these
supposedly environmentally friendly companies are simply marketing spin.

For years BP marketed itself as going “Beyond
Petroleum”. But it closed its BP Solar division in 2011 and didn’t buy back
into solar power until 2017, with a $200 million investment. This pales into
insignificance next to its $19 billion in fossil fuel income last year.

Fossil
fuel profits

Burning
fossil fuels is still highly profitable, so as long as businesses are allowed
to invest in it, they will. From the point of view of individual companies this
is a rational approach because it makes them money. But its irrationality from
the point of view of people and our planet is shown by the rush of oil
companies to exploit arctic oil reserves made more accessible by melting ice.

Despite slightly increasing investment in renewables,
the world’s top 24 publicly-listed companies spent just 1.3 per cent of their
budgets on low carbon energy in 2018, according to one study.

But there are trillions of dollars worth of
investments in fossil fuels that will have to be written off, in order to stop
carbon emissions and replace them with publicly-owned renewables.

Beyond fossil fuel companies, the vast bulk of the
economy depends on fossil fuels because they are built into the structure of
capitalism. Firms in manufacturing, packaging, transport, clothing and
agribusiness all rely heavily on fossil fuels due to their use in everything
from fertilisers, pesticides and plastics to synthetic fibres in clothing.

At the United Nations climate forum in New York
Cannon-Brookes pledged to dip into his own pockets to bankroll SunCable, a $25
billion solar export project in the NT.

But the investment in renewables that we urgently need
can’t rely on the private sector, which will only invest if there’s a profit to
be made.

Profit margins in the solar industry are tight due to
increasing competition and falling manufacturing costs. This has led to
investment in solar flatlining.

The falling cost of solar should make it easier to build
renewables. But due to competition and the need for businesses to make a
profit, we’re seeing the opposite.

The fragmented, piecemeal approach of the private
sector won’t deliver the mass investment in renewables we need in time to avoid
catastrophic climate change. And carbon-neutral pledges by climate capitalists
won’t cut it either.

Working
class

The
scale of the climate emergency we face requires radical change to decarbonise
the economy and create millions of secure and well-paid climate jobs.

To win this we need mass strike
action by workers to win public investment in renewables and to keep fossil
fuels in the ground. This means winning the right to strike and strengthening
the power of workers against bosses. It also means fighting for demands that
make life better for working class people and are capable of winning their
support. But this approach will be resisted by business leaders.

Capitalist solutions to the climate crisis are
designed to make the working class pay. For example, an Adelaide waste
management company wants the ability to fine residents who use their recycling
bins wrongly after “three strikes.”

The International Monetary Fund released another paper
in October claiming that carbon taxes are the most efficient way to cut
emissions—despite the fact that there are deeply unpopular because they force
the cost of action onto ordinary people.

The climate movement must be clear about who is
responsible for climate change. Just 100 companies globally are responsible for
71 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Blame for climate change
needs to be pinned on big business—and they should pay for it, not workers.

Paying for the investment in renewable energy, public
transport and other changes we need requires taxing the rich to fund the
transition to a clean economy. This means using the enormous wealth of people
like Cannon-Brookes to fund publicly-owned renewables projects. Even supposedly
climate-friendly businesses won’t support this.

In the early days of the protests in Hong Kong some
business leaders joined the marches. Business people might have been able to
support a movement that defended Hong Kong’s “rule of law.”

But the Hong Kong ruling class do not support the kind
of action that is necessary to win greater democracy in Hong Kong, let alone a
movement for a redistribution of wealth and power in society.

Just as Hong Kong’s rulers are inextricably tied to
China’s ruling class, most big “climate capitalists” are also deeply invested
in the fossil-fuelled status quo. They will oppose taxing the rich to fund
publicly-owned renewables.

How supportive of radical change could business
leaders like Cannon-Brookes be when his company depends on customers like BP,
NASA, BAE systems and the US Department of Defense?

If the movement is going to win a safe climate it will
require workers striking against fossil fuel capitalists and climate
capitalists alike.

Unsurprisingly, when Atlassian encouraged staff to
attend the climate strike, it cautioned, “Let’s be really, really clear: We’re
not striking against Atlassian!”

Workers going on strike is the most powerful weapon
the climate movement has to bring about the changes we need. When workers stop
work, the ruling class is unable to continue making profits.

It’s through mass actions like strikes and
protests that workers and students can force the ruling class to take serious
climate action. And such a movement could also go further, to create a society
where planet and people come before profit.

The post Why green business can’t solve climate change appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Elderly Rabbi Arrested at Extinction Rebellion Protest

Yesterday’s I, for Tuesday, 15th October 2019, carried an article by Jennifer Logan reporting that an elderly rabbi had been arrested by the rozzers after praying at an Extinction Rebellion protest in London. The article ran

A rabbi who was arrested after kneeling and praying in the middle of a road during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London said yesterday that he was “standing up for his grandchildren.”

Police have now arrested 1,405 people in connection with the protests, which will continue tomorrow when activists are understood to be planning to block roads outside MI5 on what will be the seventh day of direct action over the global climate crisis.

Jeffrey Newman, the Rabbi Emeritus of Finchley Reform Synagogue in north London, was protesting alongside about 30 Jewish activists. He was arrested near the Bank of England as hundreds of people descended upon the financial centre for a second week of protests.

The 77-year-old, who was wearing a white yarmulka branded with the black Extinction Rebellion logo, said: “I see it as my religious and moral duty to stand up for what I believe in, and what I care about, for my grandchildren.

“I haven’t tried to involve the synagogue, because if you are asking for permission, you might not get it. I think it’s much more important to do what I’m doing.”

After last week’s protests, which blockaded Parliament and targeted City Airport, protesters are now focusing on the City of London over financial backing for fossil fuels. They claim that trillions of pounds are flowing through financial markets to invest in fossil fuels which damage the climate.

Extinction Rebellion said dozens of activists were due to appear in court this week, including trials connected with previous action in April.

I have to say that Extinction Rebellion aren’t exactly my favourite protest group, because their demonstrations seem to inconvenience the general public more than the politicians and the big corporations behind the fossil fuel industries and global warming. But they have a very, very good cause. Meteorologists, ecologists, along with other scientists and broadcasters like Sir David Attenborough have been warning for decades that unless something is done, our beautiful world may very well die and humanity along with it. When I was studying for my doctorate in Archaeology at Bristol Uni, one of the postgraduate seminars in the department was by an archaeologist on the impact of climate change on human cultures throughout history. He was particularly concerned about drought and desertification, which certainly has catastrophically affected human civilisations around the world. One of the most dramatic examples was the abandonment of the Amerindian pueblo cities in the Canyon de Chelly in the American southwest around the 12th century AD. The pueblo cultures had created an extensive irrigation to supply water to their crops in the southwestern desert. However, in the 12th century that part of America entered an extremely dry period during which the available water dried up. Civilisation was not destroyed, as the Amerindian peoples themselves survived by retreating to more fertile areas. Nevertheless, it resulted in those pueblos, which had survived for centuries, being abandoned.

And now we face a similar crisis in the 21st century, thanks in part to global warming and an increasingly intense demand for water. Back in the 1990s one edition of the Financial Times predicted that climate change and competition for water resources would be the major force for war in the 21st century. In West Africa one of the reasons for the conflict in the north of Nigeria, for example, between Christians and Muslims is the desertification of the traditional grazing territory of nomadic pastoralists. These are mainly Muslim, who have been forced to move south onto land belonging to mainly Christian peoples in order to feed their flocks. The result has been ethnic and religious conflict. But it’s important to realise that the roots of this conflict are primarily ecological. It is not simply about religion. Examples of desertification and global dry periods in the past have been used by the Right to argue that the current climate crisis really isn’t as acute as scientists have claimed. It’s just the world’s natural climatic cycle repeating itself. This certainly wasn’t the view of the archaeologist giving that talk at uni, who warned that there was only a finite amount of water and urged us all to use it sparingly.

It was interesting to read the good rabbi’s concern for the planet and his grandchildren. People of all faiths are now worried about climate change. One of the priests at our local church preached a very long sermon on Sunday, no doubt partly inspired by the coming Extinction Rebellion protests, on the need to save the planet. I’ve no doubt that the involvement of practising Jews in this protest, and others, will cause something of a problem for some of the propaganda used to attack Green groups. Because there was a very strong ecological aspect to Nazism, the Right tries to close off sympathy for Green politics as a whole by smearing it as a form of Nazism, even when it’s blatantly clear that they aren’t. But the IHRC definition of anti-Semitism states that it is anti-Semitic to describe a Jew as a Nazi. Which is going to make it rather difficult for the organisations and rags that follow this line to claim that Jewish Greens are somehow supporting Nazism for getting involved in protests like this.

But it seems the cops are becoming very heavy-handed in their treatment of protesters. Mike over on his blog condemned the arrest of a 91/2 year old gentleman on another climate protest. This spirited old chap used the same explanation for his actions as Rabbi Newman: he was worried for the future of his grandchildren. Or great-grandchildren. He was arrested because he was caught protesting outside the Cabinet Office, and so frightened that doughty defender of British freedom, Boris Johnson. Yeah, our current excuse for a Prime Minister, who seems to fancy himself as the heir to Julius Caesar, Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and Winston Churchill, was ‘frit’ – to use Thatcher’s word – of a 91 or 92 year old gent. Mike concluded of this gentleman’s arrest

Conclusion: John was committing an offence against nobody but Boris Johnson. A Boris Johnson government is an offence against the very environment in which we live.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/09/92-year-old-man-arrested-while-supporting-extinction-rebellion-because-the-tories-dont-like-it/

As ever, Mike is correct. In a subsequent article he showed that the Tories are far more likely than Labour to vote for policies that actively harm the planet. BoJo himself ‘was also among 10 ministers who received donations or gifts from oil companies, airports, petrostates, climate sceptics or thinktanks identified as spreading information against climate action.’ Mike’s article was based on a Guardian piece, that developed a scoreboard for the parties’ and individual politicians’ voting record. The Tories on average scored 17. Labour scored 90, and Jeremy Corbyn 92. Mike’s conclusion:

if you want a government that acts against climate change and to protect the environment for you, your children and future generations, you need to vote LABOUR.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/12/worried-about-climate-change-then-dont-vote-tory/

And we have to stop the cops being used as BoJo’s private police force, so that no more decent people, including senior citizens and members of the clergy of this country’s diverse religious communities, are picked up because they dare to frighten BoJob and his wretched corporate backers.

Copenhagen: Life in the Slow Lane

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/10/2019 - 5:41pm in

Colin Todhunter Indian cities are in crisis. Spend any length of time in a large city there and you will notice the overcrowding, the power and water shortages and, during monsoon, the streets that transform into stinking, litter-strewn rivers. At times, these cities can be almost unbearable to live in. And, not least of course, …

Resurrected Protester

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/10/2019 - 4:55am in

This is news: Jane Fonda Arrested While Protesting in D.C. Not particularly a news outlet (Hollywood Reporter – Ryan Parker reporting) I would read but, they have it out front and center in reporting on Ms. Fonda protesting about “the industries that are destroying our planet for profit.” “I will be on the Capitol every […]

Build the Climate Rebellion: Back the fight of Melbourne’s train and tram workers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 10:41am in

In the face of
the climate crisis, we need a swift transition away from fossil fuels.
Coalition PM Scott Morrison is heading in the wrong direction, considering new
government funding to extend the life of the Liddell coal-fired power station.
Government funding should go to renewables and public transport. We need to
take electricity and public transport back into public hands to drive the
climate transition we need.

State Labor
Premier Daniel Andrews, who has criticised XR for disruption, could fund the
Mildura solar power plant that Labor first promised in 2006, and expand public
transport to cut emissions and reduce crowding. Without deep and immediate
emissions cuts there is much more climate disruption coming.

Our current
transport system is Australia’s second largest source of greenhouse gas
pollution after electricity. Due to our inadequate public transport system,
nearly 87 per cent of people get to work via car. To cut emissions, we need a
massive expansion of free public transport.

Jobs in public
transport are exactly the kind of green jobs we need to avert climate
catastrophe. The fight to defend wages and conditions for tram and train
workers is a climate fight that we can and should be a part of.

Yarra
Trams, the private company that operates Victorian public transport, is trying to slash wages and conditions for
public transport workers. They are offering a measly pay rise and threatening
to increase the number of part-time workers from 4 per cent to 15 per cent. In
response, tram drivers were due to go on strike this Thursday, fighting for
better pay and full time work.

Unfortunately the strike has been called off after Yarra
Trams CEO Nicolas Gindt asked the union to withdraw the action “in light of
safety concerns around planned [Extinction Rebellion] protests”. This makes it
doubly important for XR to declare its support for the public transport
workers. We need mass support to win climate demands, we can’t let Yarra Trams
divide us from the transport workers’ fight.

At the same time Metro Trains is forcing their workers through the courts and has legally blocked train drivers from taking strike action. If Metro wins, this will be a blow for public transport workers but also for the climate. XR groups should mobilise to support the rally against Metro on Thursday 17 October at 11.30am at Flinders St.

Australia’s
anti-strike laws are already some of the most restrictive in the world. It is
currently illegal to strike for the climate, but it is going to take strike
action to win the kind of climate action we need—unionised workers have the
potential power to shut down the public transport system demanding climate
jobs.

We saw a glimmer of defiance when many workers (including a Rail, Tram
& Bus Union contingent) walk out with the students for the climate strike
in September. It’s going to take more of this defiance to win the mass
investment in public transport that we need, along with a transition to 100 per
cent publicly owned renewable energy.

XR should back the demands of the climate strike that 300,000 people marched for: 100 per cent renewable energy, no new coal, oil and gas, and to fund a just transition and job creation for fossil fuel workers and their communities.

The post Build the Climate Rebellion: Back the fight of Melbourne’s train and tram workers appeared first on Solidarity Online.

No Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 3:37am in

John Steppling In class society, everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.” Mao – On Practice (1937) That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who …

Spring Rebellion.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 8:14pm in

(source)
Last week Peter Dutton, the federal Minister for Home Affairs (for overseas readers: a sort of Australian version of the US Department of Homeland Security), possibly on account of his experience as a Queensland Police Service officer, asked for climate change activists to be subject to mandatory criminal penalties, named and shamed, because they were a threat to the public.

Tim Hansen, commander of the Melbourne north-west metropolitan region of the Victoria Police, warned that the Extinction Rebellion movement had been infiltrated by fringe groups.

Asked his opinion on Dutton’s proposal, David Littleproud, agreed: “Everyone wants a cause these days. They become angry and impose their will on the Australian people”.

The photo above shows two NSW police officers risking their lives as they arrest an extremely dangerous grandpop, possibly even a fringe bowls club member. More on that from ABC News.

----------
SBS News Australia and New Zealand coverage.

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Links:

Extinction Rebellion

Melbourne Activist Legal Support
“Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) supports activists to defend their own civil and political rights.”

CounterAct
“CounterAct was launched in 2012 to support communities in taking effective, creative, strategic action on issues of environmental and social justice.”

Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales
“Each year the Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales (EDO NSW) provides free legal advice to more than 1,000 individuals and community groups across NSW. We also run free legal workshops for local communities. EDO NSW has run a number of landmark legal cases in the courts and undertakes policy and law reform work at both the State and Federal level.”

The Devil From Down Under (Updated).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/10/2019 - 8:07pm in

We’ve all witnessed the Donald Trump/Scott Morrison bromance blooming. The mutual flattering (“Man of Titanium”  remark included), the hands held, the giggles; Morrison’s Trumpesque snubbing of the UN Climate Change Summit and his adopting of the equally Trumpian “fake news” and anti-globalist rhetoric.

(source)
It turns out that there was a string attached to that love affair: The Donald expects ScoMo to “investigate” Alexander Downer’s role in the beginning of the Mueller inquiry.­

As is well-known by now Alexander Downer, former Howard (Bush II’s “Man of Steel”) reign Liberal grandee and Aussie ambassador to the Court of St. James, reported a conversation he allegedly had in May 2016 with disgraced Trump supporter George Papadopoulos, during the election campaign. Papa, in Downer’s narrative, had disclosed that the Russkies had damaging information on Hillary Clinton and were ready to disclose it, in support of the Trump campaign. Papa denied that and accused Downer of being Clinton’s errand boy. In turn, Downer denied that.

The Australian Leftish punditry, almost to the last man and woman, patriotically rallied to Downer’s side and qualified Papa’s accusation as conspiracy theory. Readers are free to choose who they believe: Australia’s very own International Man of Mystery or Papa. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who’s right.

(Curiously, among current and former Liberal A-listers -- that I’m aware -- only Joe Hockey, another living fossil of the Howard era and ambassador to the US, has come out openly in Downer’s defence.)

More important, however, is what is politically expedient to ScoMo’s new Yank friends and what they believe and judging by US Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump’s close ally, they strongly disagree with Hockey.

So, this is the question: will ScoMo (A) serve “Lord” Downer’s head in a silver platter as his new powerful besties seem to expect or will he (B) don his shiny armour in defence of the honour of a Liberal hasbeen? (A) would earn him cookie points with his new buddies but may displease at least some of his old mates (beginning with Downer himself), (B) would have the opposite effect (and The Donald’s affections are notoriously volatile).

The American Dems, evidently, would prefer ScoMo choosing (B) and resent him if he chose (A). The next American presidential elections are scheduled for 2020. Would a President Biden/Warren/Sanders be as friendly to ScoMo?

So, what’s gonna happen? Your guess is as good as mine. I can’t say I’d dislike either result.

----------
Just a parting note. Morrison’s rise to power followed the misfortune of several Liberal politicians. People may remember Malcolm Turnbull’s fall. They may have forgotten Michael Towke’s.

Just sayin’. It could be mere happenstance.

UPDATE:
06/10/2019. I added the screen capture to the ABC News article, which I had missed.

Climate and the Money Trail

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 11:03pm in

Whatever one may believe about the dangers of CO2 and risks of global warming creating a global catastrophe in the next roughly 12 years, it is worth noting who is promoting the current flood of propaganda and climate activism.

Democrats on the Issue(s) in the 2020 Campaign

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 4:37pm in

Democrats were poised to wage a substantial campaign based on the issues against Donald Trump next year. The likely front runner at this point, Elizabeth Warren, has a plan for everything. These are issues that most working Americans care about, like the minimum wage and healthcare. But now that they’ve decided to impeach Trump, the odds of those issues getting any serious play have all but evaporated.

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